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French president pays call on Pope Francis at Vatican

Updated

By the Associated Press

French President Emmanuel Macron is meeting privately with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Pope Francis arrives to lead the Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican, April 25, 2018. (REUTERS/Max Rossi / MANILA BULLETIN)

Pope Francis arrives to lead the Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican, April 25, 2018. (REUTERS/Max Rossi / MANILA BULLETIN)

Francis ushered the French leader into his studio, then the two men chatted amiably a few minutes Tuesday before media were escorted out of the room.

The encounter comes amid European tensions over migrants, with the pontiff urging nations to welcome all the refuges they can properly manage. Italy is angry that France sends back migrants who illegally enter France from Italy.

France recently scathingly criticized Italy’s new populist government for refusing to allow docking by a private rescue ship with more than 600 migrants aboard. Spain eventually gave the ship safe harbor.

Macron’s visit is strictly Vatican-related, with no meetings scheduled with Italian leaders.

A Swiss Guard picket greeted Macron, and his wife, Brigitte, upon arrival.

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